Publications by authors named "Wolfgang Engel"

90 Publications

Pelota Regulates Epidermal Differentiation by Modulating BMP and PI3K/AKT Signaling Pathways.

J Invest Dermatol 2016 08 7;136(8):1664-1671. Epub 2016 May 7.

Institute of Human Genetics, University of Göttingen, D-37073 Göttingen, Germany. Electronic address:

The depletion of evolutionarily conserved pelota protein causes impaired differentiation of embryonic and spermatogonial stem cells. In this study, we show that temporal deletion of pelota protein before epidermal barrier acquisition leads to neonatal lethality due to perturbations in permeability barrier formation. Further analysis indicated that this phenotype is a result of failed processing of profilaggrin into filaggrin monomers, which promotes the formation of a protective epidermal layer. Molecular analyses showed that pelota protein negatively regulates the activities of bone morphogenetic protein and phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/protein kinase B (AKT) signaling pathways in the epidermis. To address whether elevated activities of bone morphogenetic protein and PI3K/AKT signaling pathways were the cause for the perturbed epidermal barrier in Pelo-deficient mice, we made use of organotypic cultures of skin explants from control and mutant embryos at embryonic day 15.5. Inhibition of PI3K/AKT signaling did not significantly affect the bone morphogenetic protein activity. However, inhibition of bone morphogenetic protein signaling caused a significant attenuation of PI3K/AKT activity in mutant skin and, more interestingly, the restoration of profilaggrin processing and normal epidermal barrier function. Therefore, increased activity of the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway in Pelo-deficient skin might conflict with the dephosphorylation of profilaggrin and thereby affect its proper processing into filaggrin monomers and ultimately the epidermal differentiation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jid.2016.04.020DOI Listing
August 2016

Pelota mediates gonocyte maturation and maintenance of spermatogonial stem cells in mouse testes.

Reproduction 2015 Mar 2;149(3):213-21. Epub 2014 Dec 2.

Institute of Human GeneticsUniversity Medical Center of Göttingen, Heinrich-Düker-Weg 12, 37073 Göttingen, Germany

Pelota (Pelo) is an evolutionarily conserved gene, and its deficiency in Drosophila affects both male and female fertility. In mice, genetic ablation of Pelo leads to embryonic lethality at the early implantation stage as a result of the impaired development of extra-embryonic endoderm (ExEn). To define the consequences of Pelo deletion on male germ cells, we temporally induced deletion of the gene at both embryonic and postnatal stages. Deletion of Pelo in adult mice resulted in a complete loss of whole-germ cell lineages after 45 days of deletion. The absence of newly emerging spermatogenic cycles in mutants confirmed that spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) were unable to maintain spermatogenesis in the absence of PELO protein. However, germ cells beyond the undifferentiated SSC stage were capable of completing spermatogenesis and producing spermatozoa, even in the absence of PELO. Following the deletion of Pelo during embryonic development, we found that although PELO is dispensable for maintaining gonocytes, it is necessary for the transition of gonocytes to SSCs. Immunohistological and protein analyses revealed the attenuation of FOXO1 transcriptional activity, which induces the expression of many SSC self-renewal genes. The decreased transcriptional activity of FOXO1 in mutant testes was due to enhanced activity of the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway, which led to phosphorylation and cytoplasmic sequestration of FOXO1. These results suggest that PELO negatively regulates the PI3K/AKT pathway and that the enhanced activity of PI3K/AKT and subsequent FOXO1 inhibition are responsible for the impaired development of SSCs in mutant testes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1530/REP-14-0391DOI Listing
March 2015

Dppa3 expression is critical for generation of fully reprogrammed iPS cells and maintenance of Dlk1-Dio3 imprinting.

Nat Commun 2015 Jan 23;6:6008. Epub 2015 Jan 23.

Institute of Human Genetics, University of Goettingen, Heinrich-Dueker-Weg 12, 37073 Goettingen, Germany.

Reprogramming of mouse somatic cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) often generates partially reprogrammed iPSCs (pre-iPSCs), low-grade chimera forming iPSCs (lg-iPSCs) and fully reprogrammed, high-grade chimera production competent iPSCs (hg-iPSCs). Lg-iPSC transcriptome analysis revealed misregulated Dlk1-Dio3 cluster gene expression and subsequently the imprinting defect at the Dlk1-Dio3 locus. Here, we show that germ-cell marker Dppa3 is present only in lg-iPSCs and hg-iPSCs, and that induction with exogenous Dppa3 enhances reprogramming kinetics, generating all hg-iPSCs, similar to vitamin C (Vc). Conversely, Dppa3-null fibroblasts show reprogramming block at pre-iPSCs state and Dlk1-Dio3 imprinting defect. At the molecular level, we show that Dppa3 is associated with Dlk1-Dio3 locus and identify that Dppa3 maintains imprinting by antagonizing Dnmt3a binding. Our results further show molecular parallels between Dppa3 and Vc in Dlk1-Dio3 imprinting maintenance and suggest that early activation of Dppa3 is one of the cascades through which Vc facilitates the generation of fully reprogrammed iPSCs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms7008DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4354275PMC
January 2015

Lrrc34, a novel nucleolar protein, interacts with npm1 and ncl and has an impact on pluripotent stem cells.

Stem Cells Dev 2014 Dec 5;23(23):2862-74. Epub 2014 Aug 5.

1 Institute of Human Genetics, University of Göttingen , Göttingen, Germany .

The gene Lrrc34 (leucine rich repeat containing 34) is highly expressed in pluripotent stem cells and its expression is strongly downregulated upon differentiation. These results let us to suggest a role for Lrrc34 in the regulation and maintenance of pluripotency. Expression analyses revealed that Lrrc34 is predominantly expressed in pluripotent stem cells and has an impact on the expression of known pluripotency genes, such as Oct4. Methylation studies of the Lrrc34 promoter showed a hypomethylation in undifferentiated stem cells and chromatin immunoprecipitation-quantitative polymerase chain reaction analyses of histone modifications revealed an enrichment of activating histone modifications on the Lrrc34 promoter region. Further, we could verify the nucleolus-the place of ribosome biogenesis-as the major subcellular localization of the LRRC34 protein. We have verified the interaction of LRRC34 with two major nucleolar proteins, Nucleophosmin and Nucleolin, by two independent methods, suggesting a role for Lrrc34 in ribosome biogenesis of pluripotent stem cells. In conclusion, LRRC34 is a novel nucleolar protein that is predominantly expressed in pluripotent stem cells. Its altered expression has an impact on pluripotency-regulating genes and it interacts with proteins known to be involved in ribosome biogenesis. Therefore we suggest a role for Lrrc34 in ribosome biogenesis of pluripotent stem cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/scd.2013.0470DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4236065PMC
December 2014

Pelota regulates the development of extraembryonic endoderm through activation of bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling.

Stem Cell Res 2014 Jul 26;13(1):61-74. Epub 2014 Apr 26.

Institute of Human Genetics, University of Göttingen, D-37073 Göttingen, Germany. Electronic address:

Pelota (Pelo) is ubiquitously expressed, and its genetic deletion in mice leads to embryonic lethality at an early post-implantation stage. In the present study, we conditionally deleted Pelo and showed that PELO deficiency did not markedly affect the self-renewal of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) or their capacity to differentiate in teratoma assays. However, their differentiation into extraembryonic endoderm (ExEn) in embryoid bodies (EBs) was severely compromised. Conversely, forced expression of Pelo in ESCs resulted in spontaneous differentiation toward the ExEn lineage. Failure of Pelo-deficient ESCs to differentiate into ExEn was accompanied by the retained expression of pluripotency-related genes and alterations in expression of components of the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling pathway. Further experiments have also revealed that attenuated activity of BMP signaling is responsible for the impaired development of ExEn. The recovery of ExEn and down-regulation of pluripotent genes in BMP4-treated Pelo-null EBs indicate that the failure of mutant cells to down-regulate pluripotency-related genes in EBs is not a result of autonomous defect, but rather to failed signals from surrounding ExEn lineage that induce the differentiation program. In vivo studies showed the presence of ExEn in Pelo-null embryos at E6.5, yet embryonic lethality at E7.5, suggesting that PELO is not required for the induction of ExEn development, but rather for ExEn maintenance or for terminal differentiation toward functional visceral endoderm which provides the embryos with growth factors required for further development. Moreover, Pelo-null fibroblasts failed to reprogram toward induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) due to inactivation of BMP signaling and impaired mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition. Thus, our results indicate that PELO plays an important role in the establishment of pluripotency and differentiation of ESCs into ExEn lineage through activation of BMP signaling.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scr.2014.04.011DOI Listing
July 2014

The roles of DAZL in RNA biology and development.

Wiley Interdiscip Rev RNA 2014 Jul-Aug;5(4):527-35. Epub 2014 Apr 8.

Institute of Human Genetics, University of Goettingen, Goettingen, Germany.

RNA-binding proteins play an important role in the regulation of gene expression by modulating translation and localization of specific messenger RNAs (mRNAs) during early development and gametogenesis. The DAZ (Deleted in Azoospermia) family of proteins, which includes DAZ, DAZL, and BOULE, are germ cell-specific RNA-binding proteins that are implicated in translational regulation of several transcripts. Of particular importance is DAZL, which is present in vertebrates and arose from the duplication of the ancestral BOULE during evolution. Identification of DAZL target mRNAs and characterization of the RNA-binding sequence through in vitro binding assays and crystallographic studies revealed that DAZL binds to GUU triplets in the 3' untranslated region of target mRNAs. Although there is compelling evidence for the role of DAZL in translation stimulation of target mRNAs, recent studies indicate that DAZL can also function in translational repression and transport of specific mRNAs. Furthermore, apart from the well-characterized function of DAZL in gametogenesis, recent data suggest its role in early embryonic development and differentiation of pluripotent stem cells toward functional gametes. In light of the mounting evidence for the role of DAZL in various cellular and developmental processes, we summarize the currently characterized biological functions of DAZL in RNA biology and development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/wrna.1228DOI Listing
March 2015

Zfp819, a novel KRAB-zinc finger protein, interacts with KAP1 and functions in genomic integrity maintenance of mouse embryonic stem cells.

Stem Cell Res 2013 Nov 30;11(3):1045-59. Epub 2013 Jul 30.

Institute of Human Genetics, University of Goettingen, Heinrich-Dueker-Weg 12, 37073 Goettingen, Germany.

Pluripotency is maintained by both known and unknown transcriptional regulatory networks. In the present study, we have identified Zfp819, a KRAB-zinc finger protein, as a novel pluripotency-related factor and characterized its role in pluripotent stem cells. We show that Zfp819 is expressed highly in various types of pluripotent stem cells but not in their differentiated counterparts. We identified the presence of non-canonical nuclear localization signals in particular zinc finger motifs and identified them as responsible for the nuclear localization of Zfp819. Analysis of the Zfp819 promoter region revealed the presence of a transcriptionally active chromatin signature. Moreover, we confirmed the binding of pluripotency-related factors, Oct4, Sox2, and Nanog to the distal promoter region of Zfp819, indicating that the expression of this gene is regulated by a pluripotency transcription factor network. We found that the expression of endogenous retroviral elements (ERVs) such as Intracisternal A Particle (IAP) retrotransposons, Long Interspersed Nuclear Elements (LINE1), and Short Interspersed Nuclear Elements (SINE B1) is significantly upregulated in Zfp819-knockdown (Zfp819_KD) cells. In line with the activation of ERVs, we observed the occurrence of spontaneous DNA damage in Zfp819_KD cells. Furthermore, we tested whether Zfp819 can interact with KAP1, a KRAB-associated protein with a transcriptional repression function, and found the interaction between these two proteins in both in vitro and in vivo experiments. The challenging of Zfp819_KD cells with DNA damaging agent revealed that these cells are inefficient in repairing the damaged DNA, as cells showed presence of γH2A.X foci for a prolonged time. Collectively, our study identified Zfp819 as a novel pluripotency-related factor and unveiled its function in genomic integrity maintenance mechanisms of mouse embryonic stem cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scr.2013.07.006DOI Listing
November 2013

Impact of the antiproliferative agent ciclopirox olamine treatment on stem cells proteome.

World J Stem Cells 2013 Jan;5(1):9-25

Gry H Dihazi, Asima Bibi, Gerhard A Mueller, Hassan Dihazi, Department of Nephrology and Rheumatology, Georg-August University Goettingen, D-37075 Goettingen, Germany.

Aim: To investigate the proteome changes of stem cells due to ciclopirox olamine (CPX) treatment compared to control and retinoic acid treated cells.

Methods: Stem cells (SCs) are cells, which have the ability to continuously divide and differentiate into various other kinds of cells. Murine embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and multipotent adult germline stem cells (maGSCs) were treated with CPX, which has been shown to have an antiproliferative effect on stem cells, and compared to stem cells treated with retinoic acid (RA), which is known to have a differentiating effect on stem cells. Classical proteomic techniques like 2-D gel electrophoresis and differential in-gel electrophoresis (DIGE) were used to generate 2D protein maps from stem cells treated with RA or CPX as well as from non-treated stem cells. The resulting 2D gels were scanned and the digitalized images were collated with the help of Delta 2D software. The differentially expressed proteins were analyzed by a MALDI-TOF-TOF mass spectrometer, and the identified proteins were investigated and categorized using bioinformatics.

Results: Treatment of stem cells with CPX, a synthetic antifungal clinically used to treat superficial mycoses, resulted in an antiproliferative effect in vitro, without impairment of pluripotency. To understand the mechanisms induced by CPX treatments which results in arrest of cell cycle without any marked effect on pluripotency, a comparative proteomics study was conducted. The obtained data revealed that the CPX impact on cell proliferation was accompanied with a significant alteration in stem cell proteome. By peptide mass fingerprinting and tandem mass spectrometry combined with searches of protein sequence databases, a set of 316 proteins was identified, corresponding to a library of 125 non-redundant proteins. With proteomic analysis of ESCs and maGSCs treated with CPX and RA, we could identify more than 90 single proteins, which were differently expressed in both cell lines. We could highlight, that CPX treatment of stem cells, with subsequent proliferation inhibition, resulted in an alteration of the expression of 56 proteins compared to non-treated cells, and 54 proteins compared to RA treated cells. Bioinformatics analysis of the regulated proteins demonstrated their involvement in various biological processes. To our interest, a number of proteins have potential roles in the regulation of cell proliferation either directly or indirectly. Furthermore the classification of the altered polypeptides according to their main known/postulated functions revealed that the majority of these proteins are involved in molecular functions like nucleotide binding and metal ion binding, and biological processes like nucleotide biosynthetic processes, gene expression, embryonic development, regulation of transcription, cell cycle processes, RNA and mRNA processing. Proteins, which are involved in nucleotide biosynthetic process and proteolysis, were downregulated in CPX treated cells compared to control, as well as in RA treated cells, which may explain the cell cycle arrest. Moreover, proteins which were involved in cell death, positive regulation of biosynthetic process, response to organic substance, glycolysis, anti-apoptosis, and phosphorylation were downregulated in RA treated cells compared to control and CPX treated cells.

Conclusion: The CPX treatment of SCs results in downregulation of nucleotide binding proteins and leads to cell cycle stop without impairment of pluripotency.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4252/wjsc.v5.i1.9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3557350PMC
January 2013

Mouse Dazl and its novel splice variant functions in translational repression of target mRNAs in embryonic stem cells.

Biochim Biophys Acta 2013 May 6;1829(5):425-35. Epub 2013 Jan 6.

University of Goettingen, Goettingen, Germany.

Dazl (deleted in azoospermia-like) is an RNA binding protein that is important for germ cell differentiation in vertebrates. In the present study, we report the identification of a novel Dazl isoform (Dazl_Δ8) that results from alternative splicing of exon8 of mouse Dazl. We observed the expression of Dazl_Δ8 in various pluripotent cell types, but not in somatic cells. Furthermore, the Dazl_Δ8 splice variant was expressed along with the full-length isoform of Dazl (Dazl_FL) throughout male germ-cell development and in the ovary. Sub-cellular localization studies of Dazl_Δ8 revealed a diffused cytoplasmic and large granular pattern, which is similar to the localization patterns of Dazl_FL protein. In contrast to the well documented translation stimulation function in germ cells, overexpression and downregulation studies of Dazl isoforms (Dazl_FL and Dazl_Δ8) revealed a role for Dazl in the negative translational regulation of Mvh, a known target of Dazl, as well as Oct3/4 and Sox2 in embryonic stem cells (ESCs). In line with these observations, a luciferase reporter assay with the 3'UTRs of Oct3/4 and Mvh confirmed the translational repressive role of Dazl isoforms in ESCs but not in germ cells derived cell line GC-1. Further, we identified several putative target mRNAs of Dazl_FL and Dazl_Δ8 in ESCs through RNA-binding immunoprecipitation followed by whole genome transcriptome analysis. Collectively, our results show a translation repression function of Dazl in pluripotent stem cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbagrm.2012.12.010DOI Listing
May 2013

Apoptosis-related gene expression profiles of mouse ESCs and maGSCs: role of Fgf4 and Mnda in pluripotent cell responses to genotoxicity.

PLoS One 2012 7;7(11):e48869. Epub 2012 Nov 7.

Institute of Human Genetics, University of Goettingen, Goettingen, Germany.

Stem cells in the developing embryo proliferate and differentiate while maintaining genomic integrity, failure of which may lead to accumulation of mutations and subsequent damage to the embryo. Embryonic stem cells (ESCs), the in vitro counterpart of embryo stem cells are highly sensitive to genotoxic stress. Defective ESCs undergo either efficient DNA damage repair or apoptosis, thus maintaining genomic integrity. However, the genotoxicity- and apoptosis-related processes in germ-line derived pluripotent cells, multipotent adult germ-line stem cells (maGSCs), are currently unknown. Here, we analyzed the expression of apoptosis-related genes using OligoGEArray in undifferentiated maGSCs and ESCs and identified a similar set of genes expressed in both cell types. We detected the expression of intrinsic, but not extrinsic, apoptotic pathway genes in both cell types. Further, we found that apoptosis-related gene expression patterns of differentiated ESCs and maGSCs are identical to each other. Comparative analysis revealed that several pro- and anti-apoptotic genes are expressed specifically in pluripotent cells, but markedly downregulated in the differentiated counterparts of these cells. Activation of the intrinsic apoptotic pathway cause approximately ∼35% of both ESCs and maGSCs to adopt an early-apoptotic phenotype. Moreover, we performed transcriptome studies using early-apoptotic cells to identify novel pluripotency- and apoptosis-related genes. From these transcriptome studies, we selected Fgf4 (Fibroblast growth factor 4) and Mnda (Myeloid cell nuclear differentiating antigen), which are highly downregulated in early-apoptotic cells, as novel candidates and analyzed their roles in apoptosis and genotoxicity responses in ESCs. Collectively, our results show the existence of common molecular mechanisms for maintaining the pristine stem cell pool of both ESCs and maGSCs.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0048869PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3492253PMC
May 2013

Embryo implantation failure and other reproductive defects in Ube2q1-deficient female mice.

Reproduction 2013 Jan 8;145(1):45-56. Epub 2013 Jan 8.

Institute of Human Genetics, University of Göttingen, Heinrich Düker Weg 12, 37073 Göttingen, Germany.

The ubiquitination process is indispensable for proteome regulation. Three classes of ubiquitin (Ub)-related proteins can be distinguished: E1, E2 and E3. Proteins from the E2 class are responsible for the transfer of Ubls from E1 to the target protein. For this activity, interaction with class E3 ligases is usually required. Ub-conjugating enzyme E2Q 1 (UBE2Q1) belongs to the E2 class of Ub-related enzymes and is demonstrated to be involved in the regulation of membrane B4GALT1 protein. Here, we demonstrate that human UBE2Q1 and mouse Ube2q1 are widely expressed and highly conserved genes. To elucidate the function of UBE2Q1 protein, we generated knockout mouse model. No overt phenotype was detected in UBE2Q1-deficient males, but in mutant females, pleiotropic reproductive defects were observed including altered oestrus cycle, abnormal sexual behaviour and reduced offspring care. Moreover, in the uterus of mutant females, significantly increased embryonic lethality and decreased implantation capacity of homozygous mutant embryos were noticed. We found that Ube2q1 is not expressed in the uterus of non-pregnant females but its expression is up-regulated during pregnancy. Taken together, Ube2q1 is involved in different aspects of female fertility.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1530/REP-12-0054DOI Listing
January 2013

MicroRNA signature in various cell types of mouse spermatogenesis: evidence for stage-specifically expressed miRNA-221, -203 and -34b-5p mediated spermatogenesis regulation.

Biol Cell 2012 Nov 24;104(11):677-92. Epub 2012 Sep 24.

Institute of Human Genetics, University of Goettingen, Goettingen 37073, Germany.

Background Information: Recently, it became apparent that microRNAs (miRNAs) can regulate gene expression post-transcriptionally. Despite the advances in identifying the testis-expressed miRNAs and their role in spermatogenesis, only few data are available showing the spatiotemporal expression of miRNAs during this process.

Results: To understand how different miRNAs can regulate germ cells differentiation, we generated a transgenic mouse model and purified pure populations of premeiotic (PrM) cells and primary spermatocytes (meiotic cells). We also established spermatogonial stem cell (SSC) culture using relatively simple and robust culture conditions. Comparison of global miRNA expression in these germ cell populations revealed 17 SSC-, 11 PrM- and 13 meiotic-specific miRNAs. We identified nine miRNAs as specific for both SSC and PrM cells and another nine miRNAs as specific for PrM and meiotic cells. Additionally, 45 miRNAs were identified as commonly expressed in all three cell types. Several of PrM- and meiotic-specific miRNAs were identified as exclusively/preferentially expressed in testis. We were able to identify the relevant target genes for many of these miRNAs. The luciferase reporter assays with SSC (miR-221)-, PrM (miR-203)- and meiotic (miR-34b-5p)-specific miRNAs and 3'-untranslated region constructs of their targets, c-Kit, Rbm44 and Cdk6, respectively, showed an approximately 30%-40% decrease in reporter activity. Moreover, we observed a reduced expression of endogenous proteins, c-Kit and Cdk6, when the testis-derived cell lines, GC-1 and GC-4, were transfected with miRNA mimics for miR-221 and miR-34b-5p, respectively.

Conclusions: Taken together, we established the miRNA signature of SSC, PrM and meiotic cells and show evidence for their functional relevance during the process of spermatogenesis by target prediction and validation. Through our observations, we propose a working model in which the stage-specific miRNAs such as miR-221, -203 and -34b-5p coordinate the regulation of spermatogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/boc.201200014DOI Listing
November 2012

Targeted disruption of Hspa4 gene leads to cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis.

J Mol Cell Cardiol 2012 Oct 1;53(4):459-68. Epub 2012 Aug 1.

Institute of Human Genetics, University of Göttingen, Germany.

Failure of molecular chaperones to direct the correct folding of newly synthesized proteins leads to the accumulation of misfolded proteins in cells. HSPA4 is a member of the heat shock protein 110 family (HSP110) that acts as a nucleotide exchange factor of HSP70 chaperones. We found that the expression of HSPA4 is upregulated in murine hearts subjected to pressure overload and in failing human hearts. To investigate the cardiac function of HSPA4, Hspa4 knockout (KO) mice were generated and exhibited cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis. Hspa4 KO hearts were characterized by a significant increase in heart weight/body weight ratio, elevated expression of hypertrophic and fibrotic gene markers, and concentric hypertrophy with preserved contractile function. In response to pressure overload, cardiac hypertrophy and remodeling were further aggravated in the Hspa4 KO compared to wild type (WT) mice. Cardiac hypertrophy in Hspa4 KO hearts was associated with enhanced activation of gp130-STAT3, CaMKII, and calcineurin-NFAT signaling. Protein blot and immunofluorescent analyses showed a significant accumulation of polyubiquitinated proteins in cardiac cells of Hspa4 KO mice. These results suggest that the myocardial remodeling of Hspa4 KO mice is due to accumulation of misfolded proteins resulting from impaired chaperone activity. Further analyses revealed a significant increase in cross sectional area of cardiomyocytes, and in expression levels of hypertrophic markers in cultured neonatal Hspa4 KO cardiomyocytes suggesting that the hypertrophy of mutant mice was a result of primary defects in cardiomyocytes. Gene expression profile in hearts of 3.5-week-old mice revealed a differentially expressed gene sets related to ion channels, muscle-specific contractile proteins and stress response. Taken together, our in vivo data demonstrate that Hspa4 gene ablation results in cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis, possibly, through its role in protein quality control mechanism.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.yjmcc.2012.07.014DOI Listing
October 2012

Generation and characterization of yeast two-hybrid cDNA libraries derived from two distinct mouse pluripotent cell types.

Mol Biotechnol 2013 Jun;54(2):228-37

Institute of Human Genetics, University of Goettingen, Goettingen, Germany.

Pluripotent stem cells have the therapeutic potential in future regenerative medicine applications. Therefore, it is highly important to understand the molecular mechanisms governing the pluripotency and differentiation potential of these cells. Our current knowledge of pluripotent cells is largely limited owing to the candidate gene/protein approach rather than studying the complex interactions of the proteins. Experimentally, yeast two-hybrid system (Y2H) is by far the most useful and widely used method to detect the protein-protein interactions in high-throughput screenings. Unfortunately, currently there is no GAL4-based pluripotent stem cell-specific cDNA library available for screening the interaction proteins impeding the large-scale studies. In this study, we report the construction of Y2H cDNA libraries derived from mouse pluripotent embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and multipotent adult germ-line stem cells (maGSCs) in GAL4-based Y2H vector system with very high transformation efficiency. Furthermore, we have constructed two different baits and screened for interaction partners in an effort to characterize the libraries and also as a part of our ongoing studies. Consequently, many putative interaction proteins were identified in both cases and their interaction was further validated by direct-Y2H. The observed interactions between bait proteins and their respective analyzed putative interaction proteins were further confirmed using two independent approaches in mammalian cells, thus highlighting the biological significance of the identified interactor (s). Finally, we would like to make these cDNA libraries as a resource that can be distributed to the research community.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12033-012-9561-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3636440PMC
June 2013

Adhesion protein VSIG1 is required for the proper differentiation of glandular gastric epithelia.

PLoS One 2011 4;6(10):e25908. Epub 2011 Oct 4.

Institute of Human Genetics, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany.

VSIG1, a cell adhesion protein of the immunoglobulin superfamily, is preferentially expressed in stomach, testis, and certain gastric, esophageal and ovarian cancers. Here, we describe the expression patterns of three alternatively spliced isoforms of mouse Vsig1 during pre- and postnatal development of stomach and potential function of Vsig1 in differentiation of gastric epithelia. We show that isoforms Vsig1A and Vsig1B, which differ in the 3'untranslated region, are expressed in the early stages of stomach development. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed that VSIG1 is restricted to the adherens junction of the glandular epithelium. The shorter transcript Vsig1C is restricted to the testis, encodes an N-terminal truncated protein and is presumably regulated by an internal promoter, which is located upstream of exon 1b. To determine whether the 5' flanking region of exon 1a specifically targets the expression of Vsig1 to stomach epithelia, we generated and analyzed transgenic mice. The 4.8-kb fragment located upstream of exon 1a was sufficient to direct the expression of the reporter gene to the glandular epithelia of transgenic stomach. To determine the role of VSIG1 during the development of stomach epithelia, an X-linked Vsig1 was inactivated in embryonic stem cells (ESCs). Although Vsig1(-/Y) ESCs were only able to generate low coat color chimeric mice, no male chimeras transmitted the targeted allele to their progeny suggesting that the high contribution of Vsig1(-/Y) cells leads to the lethality of chimeric embryos. Analysis of chimeric stomachs revealed the differentiation of VSIG1-null cells into squamous epithelia inside the glandular region. These results suggest that VSIG1 is required for the establishment of glandular versus squamous epithelia in the stomach.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0025908PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3186807PMC
February 2012

Stage-specific germ-cell marker genes are expressed in all mouse pluripotent cell types and emerge early during induced pluripotency.

PLoS One 2011 25;6(7):e22413. Epub 2011 Jul 25.

Institute of Human Genetics, University of Goettingen, Goettingen, Germany.

Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) generated from the in-vitro culture of blastocyst stage embryos are known as equivalent to blastocyst inner cell mass (ICM) in-vivo. Though several reports have shown the expression of germ cell/pre-meiotic (GC/PrM) markers in ESCs, their functional relevance for the pluripotency and germ line commitment are largely unknown. In the present study, we used mouse as a model system and systematically analyzed the RNA and protein expression of GC/PrM markers in ESCs and found them to be comparable to the expression of cultured pluripotent cells originated from the germ line. Further, siRNA knockdown experiments have demonstrated the parallel maintenance and independence of pluripotent and GC/PrM networks in ESCs. Through chromatin immunoprecipitation experiments, we observed that pluripotent cells exhibit active chromatin states at GC marker genes and a bivalent chromatin structure at PrM marker genes. Moreover, gene expression analysis during the time course of iPS cells generation revealed that the expression of GC markers precedes pluripotency markers. Collectively, through our observations we hypothesize that the chromatin state and the expression of GC/PrM markers might indicate molecular parallels between in-vivo germ cell specification and pluripotent stem cell generation.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0022413PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3143132PMC
December 2011

Heat-shock protein HSPA4 is required for progression of spermatogenesis.

Reproduction 2011 Jul 12;142(1):133-44. Epub 2011 Apr 12.

Institute of Human Genetics, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany.

Heat-shock protein 110 (HSP110) family members act as nucleotide exchange factors (NEF) of mammalian and yeast HSP70 chaperones during the ATP hydrolysis cycle. In this study, we describe the expression pattern of murine HSPA4, a member of the HSP110 family, during testis development and the consequence of HSPA4 deficiency on male fertility. HSPA4 is ubiquitously expressed in all the examined tissues. During prenatal and postnatal development of gonad, HSPA4 is expressed in both somatic and germ cells; however, expression was much higher in germ cells of prenatal gonads. Analyses of Hspa4-deficient mice revealed that all homozygous mice on the hybrid C57BL/6J×129/Sv genetic background were apparently healthy. Although HSPA4 is expressed as early as E13.5 in male gonad, a lack of histological differences between Hspa4(-/-) and control littermates suggests that Hspa4 deficiency does not impair the gonocytes or their development to spermatogonia. Remarkably, an increased number of the Hspa4-deficient males displayed impaired fertility, whereas females were fertile. The total number of spermatozoa and their motility were drastically reduced in infertile Hspa4-deficient mice compared with wild-type littermates. The majority of pachytene spermatocytes in the juvenile Hspa4(-/-) mice failed to complete the first meiotic prophase and became apoptotic. Furthermore, down-regulation of transcription levels of genes known to be expressed in spermatocytes at late stages of prophase I and post-meiotic spermatids leads to suggest that the development of most spermatogenic cells is arrested at late stages of meiotic prophase I. These results provide evidence that HSPA4 is required for normal spermatogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1530/REP-11-0023DOI Listing
July 2011

Overexpression of peroxisomal testis-specific 1 protein induces germ cell apoptosis and leads to infertility in male mice.

Mol Biol Cell 2011 May 1;22(10):1766-79. Epub 2011 Apr 1.

Institute of Human Genetics, Georg-August-University of Göttingen, 37073 Göttingen, Germany.

Peroxisomal testis-specific 1 gene (Pxt1) is the only male germ cell-specific gene that encodes a peroxisomal protein known to date. To elucidate the role of Pxt1 in spermatogenesis, we generated transgenic mice expressing a c-MYC-PXT1 fusion protein under the control of the PGK2 promoter. Overexpression of Pxt1 resulted in induction of male germ cells' apoptosis mainly in primary spermatocytes, finally leading to male infertility. This prompted us to analyze the proapoptotic character of mouse PXT1, which harbors a BH3-like domain in the N-terminal part. In different cell lines, the overexpression of PXT1 also resulted in a dramatic increase of apoptosis, whereas the deletion of the BH3-like domain significantly reduced cell death events, thereby confirming that the domain is functional and essential for the proapoptotic activity of PXT1. Moreover, we demonstrated that PXT1 interacts with apoptosis regulator BAT3, which, if overexpressed, can protect cells from the PXT1-induced apoptosis. The PXT1-BAT3 association leads to PXT1 relocation from the cytoplasm to the nucleus. In summary, we demonstrated that PXT1 induces apoptosis via the BH3-like domain and that this process is inhibited by BAT3.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1091/mbc.E09-12-0993DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3093327PMC
May 2011

Multipotent adult germline stem cells and embryonic stem cells functional proteomics revealed an important role of eukaryotic initiation factor 5A (Eif5a) in stem cell differentiation.

J Proteome Res 2011 Apr 16;10(4):1962-73. Epub 2011 Mar 16.

Department of Nephrology and Rheumatology, Georg-August University Goettingen , Robert-Koch-Strasse 40, D-37075 Goettingen, Germany.

Multipotent adult germline stem cells (maGSCs) are pluripotent cells that can be differentiated into somatic cells of the three primary germ layers. To highlight the protein profile changes associated with stem cell differentiation, retinoic acid (RA) treated mouse stem cells (maGSCs and ESCs) were compared to nontreated stem cells. 2-DE and DIGE reference maps were created, and differentially expressed proteins were further processed for identification. In both stem cell types, the RA induced differentiation resulted in an alteration of 36 proteins of which 18 were down-regulated and might be potential pluripotency associated proteins, whereas the other 18 proteins were up-regulated. These might be correlated to stem cell differentiation. Surprisingly, eukaryotic initiation factor 5A (Eif5a), a protein which is essential for cell proliferation and differentiation, was significantly down-regulated under RA treatment. A time-dependent investigation of Eif5a showed that the RA treatment of stem cells resulted in a significant up-regulation of the Eif5a in the first 48 h followed by a progressive down-regulation thereafter. This effect could be blocked by the hypusination inhibitor ciclopirox olamine (CPX). The alteration of Eif5a hypusination, as confirmed by mass spectrometry, exerts an antiproliferative effect on ESCs and maGSCs in vitro, but does not affect the cell pluripotency. Our data highlights the important role of Eif5a and its hypusination for stem cell differentiation and proliferation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/pr1012015DOI Listing
April 2011

Global and gene-specific histone modification profiles of mouse multipotent adult germline stem cells.

Mol Hum Reprod 2011 Mar 8;17(3):166-74. Epub 2010 Oct 8.

Institute of Human Genetics, Georg-August-University Goettingen, Heinrich-Dueker-Weg 12, 37073 Goettingen, Germany.

We previously reported the generation of multipotent adult germline stem cells (maGSCs) from spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) isolated from adult mouse testis. In a later study, we substantiated the pluripotency of maGSCs by demonstrating their close similarity to pluripotent male embryonic stem cells (ESCs) at the epigenetic level of global and gene-specific DNA methylation. Here, we extended the comparative epigenetic analysis of maGSCs and male ESCs by investigating the second main epigenetic modification in mammals, i.e. global and gene-specific modifications of histones (H3K4 trimethylation, H3K9 acetylation, H3K9 trimethylation and H3K27 trimethylation). Using immunofluorescence staining, flow cytometry and western blot analysis, we show that maGSCs are very similar to male ESCs with regard to global levels and nuclear distribution patterns of these modifications. Chromatin immunoprecipitation real-time PCR analysis of these modifications at the gene-specific level further revealed modification patterns of the pluripotency marker genes Oct4, Sox2 and Nanog in maGSCs that are nearly identical to those of male ESCs. These genes were enriched for activating histone modifications including H3K4me3 and H3K9ac and depleted of repressive histone modifications including H3K27me3 and H3K9me3. In addition, Hoxa11, a key regulator of early embryonic development showed the ESC-typical bivalent chromatin conformation with enrichment of both the activating H3K4me3 and the repressive H3K27me3 modification also in maGSCs. Collectively, our results demonstrate that maGSCs also closely resemble ESCs with regard to their chromatin state and further evidence their pluripotent nature.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/molehr/gaq085DOI Listing
March 2011

Early embryonic lethality in gene trap mice with disruption of the Arfgef2 gene.

Int J Dev Biol 2010 ;54(8-9):1259-66

Institute of Human Genetics, University of Gottingen, Heinrich-Düker-Weg 12, Göttingen, Germany.

The switching of ADP-ribosylation factors from the inactive form to the active form is catalyzed by ARF-GEF (ADP ribosylation factor--guanine nucleotide exchange protein) proteins containing a Sec7 domain. The murine Arfgef2 gene encoding the BIG2 protein belongs to the class of high molecular mass (>100 kDa) ARF-GEF proteins. BIG2 is believed to be associated with the trans-Golgi network and the recycling endosomes. In humans, mutations in the ARFGEF2 gene cause autosomal recessive periventricular heterotopia with microcephaly. To elucidate the function of BIG2 in mouse we studied a gene-trap mouse line with a functional disruption of the Arfgef2 gene. Heterozygous mutants did not reveal phenotypic abnormalities and were fertile. However, no homozygous embryos were obtained from breeding heterozygous females and males. To explore the reason for embryonic lethality, we analysed the pattern of expression of Arfgef2. Arfgef2 transcripts were detected in several adult tissues. Interestingly, Arfgef2 undergoes alternative splicing and the splicing pattern differs among tissues from adult animals. Moreover, the LacZ reporter gene of the gene-trap construct was used to reveal the expression of Arfgef2 during embryonic development. Here, we show that Arfgef2 mRNA is stored in the oocyte and is likely translated during the first embryonic divisions. SNP (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism) markers were used to demonstrate that the embryonic Arfgef2 gene is activated first at the 4-cell stage, suggesting an important role for embryonic development. This assumption is supported by the failure of Arfgef2-deficient oocytes fertilized with Arfgef2-deficient sperm to develop into 4-cell stage embryos. Our results indicate that murine BIG2 is essential for early embryonic development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1387/ijdb.092959pgDOI Listing
March 2011

PSCDGs of mouse multipotent adult germline stem cells can enter and progress through meiosis to form haploid male germ cells in vitro.

Differentiation 2010 Nov-Dec;80(4-5):184-94. Epub 2010 Sep 1.

Institute of Human Genetics, University of Göttingen, 37073 Göttingen, Germany.

Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) provide the basis for spermatogenesis throughout adult life by undergoing self-renewal and differentiation into sperm. SSC-derived cell lines called multipotent adult germline stem cells (maGSCs) were recently shown to be pluripotent and to have the same potential as embryonic stem cells (ESCs). In a differentiation protocol using retinoic acid (RA) and based on a double selection strategy, we have shown that ESCs are able to undergo meiosis and produce haploid male germ cells in vitro. Using this differentiation protocol we have now succeeded to generate haploid male germ cells from maGSCs in vitro. maGSCs derived from a Stra8-EGFP transgenic mouse line were differentiated into stable spermatogonial stages and further cultured. These cells were transfected with a postmeiotic specific promoter construct Prm1-DsRed to monitor retinoic acid (RA) induced differentiation into haploid male gametes. Our protocol is another approach for the production of pluripotent stem cell derived gametes (PSCDGs) and is an alternative for the investigation of mammalian spermatogenesis, germ line gene modification and epigenetic reprogramming. If reproducible with pluripotent cell lines derived from human SSCs, it could also be used as a therapeutic approach for the treatment of male infertility.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.diff.2010.08.001DOI Listing
February 2011

Embryonic stem cell-related miRNAs are involved in differentiation of pluripotent cells originating from the germ line.

Mol Hum Reprod 2010 Nov 21;16(11):793-803. Epub 2010 Jun 21.

Institute of Human Genetics, University of Goettingen, 37073 Goettingen, Germany.

Cells originating from the germ cell lineage retain the remarkable property under special culture conditions to give rise to cells with embryonic stem cell (ESC) properties, such as the multipotent adult germline stem cells (maGSCs) derived from adult mouse testis. To get an insight into the mechanisms that control pluripotency and differentiation in these cells, we studied how differences observed during in vitro differentiation between ESCs and maGSCs are associated with differences at the level of microRNAs (miRNAs). In this work, we provide for a first time a connection between germ cell origin of maGSCs and their specific miRNA expression profile. We found that maGSCs express higher levels of germ cell markers characteristic for primordial germ cells (PGCs) and spermatogonia compared with ESCs. Retained expression of miR-290 cluster has been previously reported in maGSCs during differentiation and it was associated with higher Oct-4 levels. Here, we show that this property is also shared by another pluripotent cell line originating from the germ line, the embryonic germ cells. In addition, we provide proof that the specific miRNA expression profile of maGSCs has an impact on their differentiation potential. Low levels of miR-302 in maGSCs during the first 10 days of leukaemia inhibitory factor deprivation are shown to be necessary for the maintenance of high levels of early germ cell markers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/molehr/gaq053DOI Listing
November 2010

Pathways of proliferation and antiapoptosis driven in breast cancer stem cells by stem cell protein piwil2.

Cancer Res 2010 Jun 11;70(11):4569-79. Epub 2010 May 11.

North East England Stem Cell Institute, Institute of Human Genetics, and Northern Institute for Cancer Research, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom.

Cancer stem cell studies may improve understanding of tumor pathophysiology and identify more effective strategies for cancer treatment. In a variety of organisms, Piwil2 has been implicated in multiple roles including stem cell self-renewal, RNA silencing, and translational control. In this study, we documented specific expression of the stem cell protein Piwil2 in breast cancer with predominant expression in breast cancer stem cells. In patients who were evaluated, we determined that 90% of invasive carcinomas and 81% of carcinomas in situ exhibited highest expression of Piwil2. In breast cancer cells, Piwil2 silencing suppressed the expression of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3, a pivotal regulator of Bcl-X(L) and cyclin D1, whose downregulation paralleled a reduction in cell proliferation and survival. Our findings define Piwil2 and its effector signaling pathways as key factors in the proliferation and survival of breast cancer stem cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-2670DOI Listing
June 2010

Pelota interacts with HAX1, EIF3G and SRPX and the resulting protein complexes are associated with the actin cytoskeleton.

BMC Cell Biol 2010 Apr 20;11:28. Epub 2010 Apr 20.

Institute of Human Genetics, Georg-August-University, Göttingen, Germany.

Background: Pelota (PELO) is an evolutionary conserved protein, which has been reported to be involved in the regulation of cell proliferation and stem cell self-renewal. Recent studies revealed the essential role of PELO in the No-Go mRNA decay, by which mRNA with translational stall are endonucleotically cleaved and degraded. Further, PELO-deficient mice die early during gastrulation due to defects in cell proliferation and/or differentiation.

Results: We show here that PELO is associated with actin microfilaments of mammalian cells. Overexpression of human PELO in Hep2G cells had prominent effect on cell growth, cytoskeleton organization and cell spreading. To find proteins interacting with PELO, full-length human PELO cDNA was used as a bait in a yeast two-hybrid screening assay. Partial sequences of HAX1, EIF3G and SRPX protein were identified as PELO-interacting partners from the screening. The interactions between PELO and HAX1, EIF3G and SRPX were confirmed in vitro by GST pull-down assays and in vivo by co-immunoprecipitation. Furthermore, the PELO interaction domain was mapped to residues 268-385 containing the c-terminal and acidic tail domain. By bimolecular fluorescence complementation assay (BiFC), we found that protein complexes resulting from the interactions between PELO and either HAX1, EIF3G or SRPX were mainly localized to cytoskeletal filaments.

Conclusion: We could show that PELO is subcellularly localized at the actin cytoskeleton, interacts with HAX1, EIF3G and SRPX proteins and that this interaction occurs at the cytoskeleton. Binding of PELO to cytoskeleton-associated proteins may facilitate PELO to detect and degrade aberrant mRNAs, at which the ribosome is stalled during translation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2121-11-28DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2867792PMC
April 2010

Pluripotent stem cells are highly susceptible targets for syngeneic, allogeneic, and xenogeneic natural killer cells.

FASEB J 2010 Jul 9;24(7):2164-77. Epub 2010 Feb 9.

Department of Cellular and Molecular Immunology, University of Göttingen, Humboldtallee 34, 37073 Göttingen, Germany.

Multipotent adult germ-line stem cells (maGSCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) could be used to generate autologous cells for therapeutic purposes, which are expected to be tolerated by the recipient. However, effects of the immune system on these cells have not been investigated. We have compared the susceptibility of maGSC lines to IL-2-activated natural killer (NK) cells with embryonic stem cell (ESC) lines, iPSCs, and F9 teratocarcinoma cells. The killing of pluripotent cell lines by syngeneic, allogeneic, and xenogeneic killer cells ranged between 48 and 265% in chromium release assays when compared to YAC-1 cells, which served as highly susceptible reference cells. With the exception of 2 maGSC lines, they expressed ligands for the activating NK receptor NKG2D that belong to the RAE-1 family, and killing could be inhibited by soluble NKG2D, demonstrating a functional role of these molecules. Furthermore, ligands of the activating receptor DNAM-1 were frequently expressed. The susceptibility to NK cells might constitute a common feature of pluripotent cells. It could result in rejection after transplantation, as suggested by a reduced teratoma growth after NK cell activation in vivo, but it might also offer a strategy to deplete contaminating pluripotent cells before grafting of differentiated cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1096/fj.09-134957DOI Listing
July 2010

Multipotent adult germline stem cells and embryonic stem cells: comparative proteomic approach.

J Proteome Res 2009 Dec;8(12):5497-510

Department of Nephrology and Rheumatology, Georg-August University Goettingen, Robert-Koch-Strasse 40, D-37075 Goettingen, Germany.

Spermatogonial stem cells isolated from the adult mouse testis acquire under certain culture conditions pluripotency and become so-called multipotent adult germline stem cells (maGSCs). They can be differentiated into somatic cells of the three germ layers. We investigated a subset of the maGSCs and ESCs proteomes using cell lines derived from two different mouse strains, narrow range immobilized pH gradients to favor the detection of less abundant proteins, and DIGE to ensure confident comparison between the two cell types. 2-D reference maps of maGSCs and ESCs in the pI ranges 3-6 and 5-8 were created, and protein entities were further processed for protein identification. By peptide mass fingerprinting and tandem mass spectrometry combined with searches of protein sequence databases, a set of 409 proteins was identified, corresponding to a library of 166 nonredundant stem cell-associated proteins. The identified proteins were classified according to their main known/postulated functions using bioinformatics. Furthermore, we used DIGE to highlight the ESC-like nature of maGSCs on the proteome scale. We concluded that the proteome of maGSCs is highly similar to that of ESCs as we could identify only a small subset of 18 proteins to be differentially expressed between the two cell types. Moreover, comparative analysis of the cell line proteomes from two different mouse strains showed that the interindividual differences in maGSCs proteomes are minimal. With our study, we created for the first time a proteomic map for maGSCs and compared it to the ESCs proteome from the same mouse. We confirmed on the proteome level the ESC-like nature of maGSCs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/pr900565bDOI Listing
December 2009

Disruption of the murine dynein light chain gene Tcte3-3 results in asthenozoospermia.

Reproduction 2010 Jan;139(1):99-111

Institute of Human Genetics, University of Goettingen, 37073 Goettingen, Germany.

To elucidate the role of the mouse gene Tcte3 (Tctex2), which encodes a putative light chain of the outer dynein arm of cilia and sperm flagella, we have inactivated this gene in mice using targeted disruption. Breeding of heterozygous males and females resulted in normal litter size; however, we were not able to detect homozygous Tcte3-deficent mice using standard genotype techniques. In fact, our results indicate the presence of at least three highly similar copies of the Tcte3 gene (Tcte3-1, Tcte3-2, and Tcte3-3) in the murine genome. Therefore, quantitative real-time PCR was established to differentiate between mice having one or two targeted Tcte3-3 alleles. By this approach, Tcte3-3(-/-) animals were identified, which were viable and revealed no obvious malformation. Interestingly, some homozygous Tcte3-3-deficient male mice bred with wild-type female produced no offspring while other Tcte3-3-deficient males revealed decreased sperm motility but were fertile. In infertile Tcte3-3(-/-) males, spermatogenesis was affected and sperm motility was reduced, too, resulting in decreased ability of Tcte3-3-deficient spermatozoa to move from the uterus into the oviduct. Impaired flagellar motility is not correlated with any gross defects in the axonemal structure, since outer dynein arms are detectable in sperm of Tcte3-3(-/-) males. However, in infertile males, deficient Tcte3-3 function is correlated with increased apoptosis during male germ cell development, resulting in a reduction of sperm number. Moreover, multiple malformations in developing haploid germ cells are present. Our results support a role of Tcte3-3 in generation of sperm motility as well as in male germ cell differentiation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1530/REP-09-0243DOI Listing
January 2010

Multipotent adult germ-line stem cells, like other pluripotent stem cells, can be killed by cytotoxic T lymphocytes despite low expression of major histocompatibility complex class I molecules.

Biol Direct 2009 Aug 28;4:31. Epub 2009 Aug 28.

Department of Cellular and Molecular Immunology, University of Göttingen, Heinrich-Düker-Weg 12, 37073 Göttingen, Germany.

Background: Multipotent adult germ-line stem cells (maGSCs) represent a new pluripotent cell type that can be derived without genetic manipulation from spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) present in adult testis. Similarly to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), they could provide a source of cellular grafts for new transplantation therapies of a broad variety of diseases. To test whether these stem cells can be rejected by the recipients, we have analyzed whether maGSCs and iPSCs can become targets for cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) or whether they are protected, as previously proposed for embryonic stem cells (ESCs).

Results: We have observed that maGSCs can be maintained in prolonged culture with or without leukemia inhibitory factor and/or feeder cells and still retain the capacity to form teratomas in immunodeficient recipients. They were, however, rejected in immunocompetent allogeneic recipients, and the immune response controlled teratoma growth. We analyzed the susceptibility of three maGSC lines to CTL in comparison to ESCs, iPSCs, and F9 teratocarcinoma cells. Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules were not detectable by flow cytometry on these stem cell lines, apart from low levels on one maGSC line (maGSC Stra8 SSC5). However, using a quantitative real time PCR analysis H2K and B2m transcripts were detected in all pluripotent stem cell lines. All pluripotent stem cell lines were killed in a peptide-dependent manner by activated CTLs derived from T cell receptor transgenic OT-I mice after pulsing of the targets with the SIINFEKL peptide.

Conclusion: Pluripotent stem cells, including maGSCs, ESCs, and iPSCs can become targets for CTLs, even if the expression level of MHC class I molecules is below the detection limit of flow cytometry. Thus they are not protected against CTL-mediated cytotoxicity. Therefore, pluripotent cells might be rejected after transplantation by this mechanism if specific antigens are presented and if specific activated CTLs are present. Our results show that the adaptive immune system has in principle the capacity to kill pluripotent and teratoma forming stem cells. This finding might help to develop new strategies to increase the safety of future transplantations of in vitro differentiated cells by exploiting a selective immune response against contaminating undifferentiated cells.

Reviewers: This article was reviewed by Bhagirath Singh, Etienne Joly and Lutz Walter.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1745-6150-4-31DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2745366PMC
August 2009